Tuesday, April 26, 2011
She's tough, or so I've been warned. Actually the exact words were, "be afraid, be very afraid..."
So as each passing day dawns, with new and varied ways for my imagination to spike my anxiety, I gotta ask myself. Friend or Foe?
From what I understand, an editor's job is to take your manuscript, the story you wrote, edited, read and reread, spit and polished beyond and inch of its life, and dissect it. For those of us who have been through the process, it's not a pleasant one. Based on that alone, you'd naturally think...foe, right?
But there's always the other hand.
You want your story to be the best it can be. It's what all authors want...that and a spot on the NY Times Bestseller List. So a good editor is a necessary evil. Just think about the stigma and the slings and arrows many self-pubbed authors have to endure and you can appreciate why. It's the most common element cited in negative reviews across the board. Poor editing.
As much as it may pain you to have someone look at your work with an ice-cold eye, in the long run it makes for a much better story, and that leads to better reviews and increased sales.
Friend or Foe? I think the answer is neither one. The best way to describe a good editor is the term, Devil's Advocate...someone who can see the promised land and knows how to get there, but is going to make you work for your rite of passage.
Editing may be a jagged little pill, but a good editor knows how to bury it in a spoon full of sugar.
I just hope mine agrees.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Since I am someone who keeps track of the ‘unusual’, I thought nothing of the date I selected to post on until today: April 24th, 2011, Easter. Not only did I get the honor to post on Christmas Eve, but I get Easter, too. How nice . . . and how ironic. Twenty-four has special meaning to me; it is my numerological Lifepath Number derived from the date of my birth. Some call it Destiny but it is really the path we set ourselves to travel the moment we take our first breath.
So . . . was it chance, or did fate play a role in my getting to post on the two most important holidays in the Christian world? I have to wonder.
What I am going to share with you today is another short story written for Creative Writers. We’ve asked members to select a topic from time to time. They didn’t have to contribute but how about an idea? One member asked us to write about “Collections”. We all have them in one form or another.
I’ve collected a lot of things in my time . . . things only the other person and I have seen - one on one. I’m not saying we were alone. Many times we weren’t. Other people saw the same thing, but it was from a different perspective . . . that of the other person. Everyone sees things in their own point-of-view. It is the nature of the world.
Some of the things I collected were sad. They weren’t happy and wished things were different. “If only” and “Why me” were their favorite words. Many thought they didn’t deserve it but they did. We are the sowers of our lives.
Others were indifferent. They couldn’t care one way or another. I was reluctant to collect these, but the choice wasn’t mine. They made it by their come-what-may attitude. Thing of it was, they were always surprised when their gamble failed and what they supposedly didn’t care about came.
Then there were those who weren’t quite right in the head. At the mercy of other people, they sometimes had a prayer - but most did not. Mercy means what it says and many of the people involved thought only of themselves - selfishness in the purest form.
I like collecting the scum of humanity: murderers, rapists, pedophiles, domestic abusers. The list is endless. I’m glad when it’s time to collect them. No one deserves my services more.
I dislike collecting the happy. They deserve to stay because they survived. No matter what they faced, they kept a positive attitude and made the best of it. That’s what surviving is all about.
The elements of my nature are not always easy to contend with. Many times it is unjust, unfair and totally wrong. Even then “If only,” and “Why me,” are not allowed. Justice does not exist. It was not meant to be in the first place. How would they learn if everything was perfect? Perfection is only for Heaven, which they know but have forgotten.
Not my problem. I am only here to collect them, sending them on the path they choose: a do-over, wandering the gray of indecision, or going home. It doesn’t matter one way or another to me. My job is collection.
Many mistake me for the Devil, but I’m not. I am of the material realm, not spiritual so I have no dealings with the Devil . . . other than to take what he leaves.
Same thing with God. I wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for Him and His family thinking of me long ago. I have seen so many cycles, so many changes to the place people call home. They didn’t always exist. Animals came first. They were my first collection.
No, I’m not death either, as death is spiritual also - he collects souls: life- and I am reality. Hard to understand but it is so.
So then . . . what am I? I am the Earth and what I collect are the bodies of every physical form that ever walked the surface of my face. One day, I will collect you, too . . . even the person writing this. That’s what reality is all about.
So remember this Easter - no matter what your faith or lack of - that nothing physical lives forever . . . only the spiritual.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
I remember one time in particular when one of the twins, Danielle, lovingly known then as Chicky, had just settled down beside me to help or hinder my writing. She was two at the time and contributed a few words of dialogue to my effort, consisting mainly of a few well-placed “Mommys,” spiced with a few unintelligible words or praise or criticism.
When she left the room, I breathed a sigh of relief and raced to get a few thoughts on paper before she came back. But alas, she’d gone into the kitchen to get the box of cereal I left on the counter and was off sharing it with her brother.
Should I have been delighted she was sharing for a change? Or angry because she snitched the cereal and hid in the laundry room? If I hadn’t beaten our dog with my child-psychology book years before that, I could have looked for the answer. (A note to all the dog-lovers who are about to call the Humane Society. This was Ruffy, and he was much larger and harder bound than the book. Plus, he loved the extra attention.)
That’s the way my writing life went for years. The moment I thought I had the most subtle, cynically amusing thought, matching the excellence of an Erma Bombeck or a Dave Barry mapped out in my head, I was interrupted.
I remember thinking that if it weren’t for my kids, I would’ve been famous years ago. I could’ve sat beside Johnny Carson when he was still doing the Tonight Show and chatted amicably about my latest thought-provoking novel or my charming little anecdotes on life, If it wasn’t for the endless “MOMMYS”.
“Mommy, Mommy, Mommy…”
“Mom, what is…?”
“Mom, can I have a snack?”
“Mom, would you tie my shoe?”
“Mother, if you don’t keep those twins out of my room…”
“Mom, why is it raining outside?”
“Mom, where is my homework…my lunch…my shoes…my coat?”
“Mom, if you’re not doing anything important, will you…”
And, believe it or not, I was a lot more prolific back then.
Excerpted from my humorous memoir, A Dead Tomato Plant and a Paycheck, which is still looking for a home. You can find my romance novel, Play It Again, Sam, HERE, and my suspense novel, One Small Victory HERE.
Monday, April 18, 2011
He carried her off in full view of the gossip-mongering biddies posted by the windows like sentries. She'd started protesting before they got out of the little oasis but it did no good. It still did no good when she renewed her efforts after spotting the biddies jaws drop before they ran towards the biddie brood forming at the best viewing post at a speed that belied their advancing years.
The first time she'd protested, Brand just grunted. When she did it again as they passed the windows, he said that she hadn't seemed to mind Beau carrying her off so she'd best not say a word or he'd toss her down right here and have his way with her. The threat didn't seem idle since he'd slowed to a snail's pace as they passed the onlookers. She shut up and tried to look like something hurt. Once or twice she wiggled her ankle and grimaced. 'Twasn't much, but it seemed her best defense, given the circumstances.
They were in the middle of the window view when he paused at their host's gaudy waterfall fountain and propped one foot on a bench to free one of his hands. He passed her his handkerchief. It didn't seem the time to protest when he asked her to wet it in the fountain. She handed it back to him without saying a word, which was good because she'd have ended up with a mouthful of wet fabric. He rubbed her lips a little too hard at first but when she flinched, he lightened his touch to a gentle but firm stroke that covered every inch and crevice of her lips along with all the nearby skin. It would've been exciting if she weren't turning pinker by the second from recalling all the watching eyes. Okay, it was exciting anyway but that just meant she was perverse.
"Did he put his tongue in your mouth?" As he asked the question Brand tapped the wet cloth against the corner of her lips like he knocked at a door.
For an intelligent lady, she nearly did a very stupid thing. She almost told the truth. Her head half moved in a nod of yes before she switched to a negative headshake.
His eyes narrowed. "He did, didn't he? The bloody bastard." He tilted back her chin. "Open up," he said, with his index finger wrapped and ready and poised at the corner of her mouth.
She shook her head no but apparently, she wasn't a good liar.
His cloth wrapped finger tapped again, but this time when she shook her head no and sealed her lips tighter, he ignored her and shoved the very tip inside. She realized it was shaking. Then he spoke and his voice shook too. "Every trace. I need to erase every trace. I can't bear the thought of another man touching you, kissing you. Any other man. Even - especially -"
He sputtered to a stop and took a deep breath. And her foolish heart broke all over again. It shattered into tiny pieces that melted when he started crooning phrases.
"Can't stand... mine...God, am I... don't want to hurt... mine.. all mine."
Now she took a deep breath as she reached out and put her hand over his heart and said his name. Just his name. She said it around the finger but he understood, and he stopped. Then he shivered and withdrew his index finger to look into her eyes, seizing her world. So she assured him, saying, "It didn't matter. No other man has ever mattered. Only you've ever touched my heart."
His eyes still held hers as he bent towards her, his eyes focused on her lips. The world faded, sweeping away time, place and reality. Nothing existed but the two of them and this perfect moment in time. She could only purse her lips and lift her face as he whispered for her to open for him. Her pursed lips trembled but she could deny him nothing now, here in this world built for two. She opened her mouth, so close to his that he fed her his breath. Then a butterfly flew just behind him and her eyes followed the beautiful creature to the window. To one of the windows. To one of the wall of windows lined with faces pressing against the glass.
Dear sweet duck, what was she doing?
Want to find out what happens next? Are you on pins and needles to see how Brand and Adria's story ends? Part 3 of The Duke of Eden will be available at Amazon soon for only .99 cents. The full book will be available at Amazon a wee bit later, and after a little uploading/distribution time, it'll be out and about everywhere. If you want to be amongst the first to know when Part 3 is published, keep an eye on the Quackingalone web site. We'll post a notice when we're going to press and a link when it's published. If you want to leave an opinion or give feedback on the story, feel free to leave a comment and I'll be sure to HOLLA back at you.
Mary Anne Graham
Monday, April 11, 2011
It's true, really -- despite having a pretty decent IQ, I don't like deep, thought-provoking reading. I've had more than one person ask me why I "waste my time" reading romance, or other genre fiction (I also love fantasy and cozy mysteries). I should be reading the latest depressing Oprah pick, I suppose, or rereading "Of Mice and Men" by Steinbeck.
I hate Steinbeck.
I "waste my time" on romance (and other genre fiction) because, for the most part it's uplifting. It ends happily and makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I don't understand folks who don't enjoy that, to be honest.
Recently my local news station posted a story on their Facebook page about a deer in a New York cemetery who's protecting a Canadian goose and her nest since her mate was killed. Apparently it's the male goose who guards the nest while the female sits the eggs. Without the male, the nest is a goner. Except now this goose has a four-hooved protector. It was a great, sweet story. And yet, the comments were split -- half thanked them for posting because it WAS sweet, and the other half said things like, "THIS is news?"
Wouldn't it be nice to have a day when we didn't hear about earthquake casualties or fighting among the congress? A day when no child was abused, no woman raped, no man murdered?
The world can be a depressing place, more so because of the way the news is reported. I know good things happen every day, but when news agencies try to report them, they're mocked for not being serious enough. I wish they'd do it anyway.
So, yeah -- I'm a pretty smart person and I read romance. I'm proud of it and defend it rigorously.
How about you?
Let me leave you with an old song from the 80s that says what I was talking about (and for those of you who grew up then, the lyrics are a real flashback!):
Visit Marianne at her website or blog.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
That's when I realized things were no longer the same... As we sat laughing and having a terrific time, cameras were busy snapping candids and all was right with the world...that is until I hit the back button. I started scrolling through the pictures and found myself staring at the small lcd screen, the words "Oh my God, is that what I really look like?" reverberating off the walls of my brain. Why is it that men always seem to get better looking with age, but as a woman approaches the most vital, most productive, most creative time in her life, everything else seems to go south along with her boobs? It's the ultimate betrayal. Mother Nature's practical joke on womankind. Sunday morning I got up and took inventory of my face. As I stared at myself in the mirror, it was the first time I saw shades of my mother's face looking back. The transformation isn't complete, but the outlines...along with the crowsfeet...are there. Squaring my shoulders, I realized I had a choice. I could either view my newly discovered signs of aging as badges of honor or signs of decay. Which was it going to be? Like with one of my stories, it became a matter of POV. Was I going to allow myself to wallow in what the world tells me is beautiful, or was I going to do some world building of my own and create my own definition? So, botox or battle scars? For my own sake, and for the sake of the two girls I am trying to raise till the day they find me staring back at them from some mirror, I decided to place my bets on my own definitions. After all, words are my weapons...and whether or not they are on the written page, or in the mantra I tell myself everyday...they are powerful. I am powerful. I am beautiful. I am woman. What's your definition?